Tuesday, August 26

Food Review: Johnny Barr's

Cuisine: American bistro
Price: <$20 a main course
Location: 12 Jellicoe Street, Auckland
Website: http://www.johnnybarrs.com/home-splash/

Johnny Barr’s is one of the many clean, upmarket restaurants which line Auckland’s Viaduct. Walking past these restaurants I didn't expect much, my impression being style over substance. Johnny Barr’s almost proved me wrong, serving mostly delicious fare. Reading the menu, I came across many tantalising options including chicken waffles and cheese steak sandwiches. I hadn't eaten fish and chips in a long time, so I ordered that and the cheese cake. My friends also ordered some of the restaurant’s speciality ‘thickshakes’.

My first dining experience at Johnny’s started off poorly when the food took over 20 minutes to arrive. When the food actually came I was impressed by the clean presentation, which made for some great looking photos! I was finally able to dig in!

The fish and chips had a nice crisp batter, without a hint of sogginess. The fish fillet was particularly moist and tasted even better with the tartar sauce. The chips were reasonable, though too fat saturated for my liking. The fish and chips were richly satisfying, with lovely presentation and fantastic tasting fish.
The cheesecake had been freshly made that morning. It was softer than most cheesecakes I've eaten, due to the inclusion of sour cream in the recipe. It was also less rich and lighter than a standard cheesecake. The cake was ladled with a delicious strawberry sauce, mostly sweet with a tart note. The unusual recipe created a fantastic cheese cake experience, though I would have preferred it to be firmer.
My friend’s thickshakes were pretty amazing. Living up to the name, you had to make a discernible effort to suck the liquid through the straw, but you were rewarding with rich, creamy goodness.

On a subsequent visit to Johnny Barr’s I chose the pulled pork sandwich with a side of fries. This time service was much better, with food arriving promptly. Unfortunately this time the food was lacking! I found the combination of soft pork, soft coleslaw and soft bun to be unappealing. There was no contrast in texture, only a mushy texture. The pork itself tasted fine, but was drowned out by the large quantity of bread. Very disappointing, especially since pulled pork can be so delicious. The fries were crisp and again a little fatty, enjoyable but nothing exceptional.

There are glimmers of something special at Johnny Barr’s, but the restaurant fails to truly shine. Great fish, but mediocre chips. Great milkshakes, but mediocre sandwiches. Hopefully this newly opened restaurant can improve and live up to it’s full potential.